How to Keep Student Tenants for their Entire Academic Career

Monday, June 22, 2015

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Finding new tenants each academic year can be a real burden on landlords and property managers. Tenant retention is an important issue which sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to student housing. Generally speaking, most college and university programs last between 2 to 4 years.


Many student renters will change up their accommodation each passing year, making landlords constantly on the hunt for new tenants. The process of replacing student tenants each year can be both time-consuming and costly. This process often involves a full cleaning of the rental, extensive planning and marketing, responding to email and phone inquiries, screening applicants and finally selecting the tenants.


But what if a landlord could keep student tenants for their entire academic career? Here are some tips on how to accomplish that!


  1. Incentivize longer leases:

    One method to encourage an extended lease is to offer a discounted rental rate if a longer lease is signed. For example, a 1-year lease would have a rental price of $1,000 per month, 2-year would be $950 per month, 3-year would be $900 per month and so forth. A tenant could save quite a bit of money if they are willing to commit to a longer lease.

  2. Offer discounted rent during months they aren’t occupying the rental:

    Most academic programs only last 8-9 months and typically students will be locked into a 12-month lease, where they pay for a few months when they aren’t occupying the unit. One option to help student tenants is to allow subletting. Another option is to offer a discounted rental rate over summer months when they move home.

  3. Offer bonuses or perks to students who find friends to join as roommates:

    In the event that there’s a vacancy within the rental unit, let the current tenants know that if they help fill that vacancy, they’ll be rewarded. The reward could be a small rent reduction for the month, a gift card, or something else.

  4. Offer a static monthly rent that won’t increase:

    An appealing offer to encourage longer leases is offering a static rental rate which won’t increase, if an extended lease is signed. This allows tenants to lock into a monthly rental rate that will not go up for the entire lease duration. This option can be particularly appealing in competitive student housing markets where rental rates rise frequently.

  5. Discuss lease renewals far in advance:

    Address the topic of lease renewals far in advance. A mistake some landlords make is not asking about renewal until the last month, or failing to ask at all.
  6. Continuously improve the rental property:

    Improving the rental property or adding different amenities can entice students to want to stay. Keep in mind that renovations or improvements shouldn’t interfere with the tenants schedule; it’s best to do renovations when the rental is vacant. Improvements can range from cosmetic upgrades like painting to amenity upgrades like a new washer and dryer.

  7. Listen to tenants feedback and act on it:

    Tenants like to have their opinions heard; and like it even more when their feedback is acted upon. If a tenant complains about something, address the issue promptly and try to resolve it. Being a responsive landlord is a great way to develop a positive relationship with tenants and increase the probability of them staying for more than just one year. 


Consider implementing some of these strategies to improve tenant retention. The hidden costs of replacing a tenant will almost always outweigh the costs of keeping current tenants. 


SEE ALSO: Top 15 Tips For Renting To Students

The Team